Celebrating student experience with a showcase

The Experiential Showcase opening reception in Dion Center’s first-floor digital lounge Thursday afternoon found students standing alongside “artifacts” they chose to represent poignant and often unexpected learning moments gleaned from activities beyond campus. Joan Wagner, director of community-engaged learning and coordinator of experiential learning, was chief organizer. She said she based the showcase formula on the NPR series “This I Believe,” asking students to “tell a story, ground it in events of life, be brief, speak in first person, be personal and make it real.”

Students at the showcase gladly expounded on their  short narratives for passers-by:

  • Nicole English ’15, a fire unit member and anthropology major from Arlington, MA, had a fire helmet as her artifact and told the tale of driving a fire truck to an on-campus fire in the middle of a freezing February night. “This has changed my life,” she said of her firefighting experience.
  • Lauren Loy ’15 crafted a beautiful paper snowflake to decorate a Campus Ministry “VITA” team semi-formal dance that she helped organize, and kept it as her “artifact.” Participation in the Catholic faith life of the College, from a role in liturgies to spiritual retreats and enjoyable socials, has been central to her Saint Michael’s experience, said the biology major from Long Island.
  • Steven Cerri ’15, a Wilderness Program outfitter coordinator and economics major from Derry, NH --  whose size 16 hiking-boot “artifact” represented a trek with friends down the Grand Canyon -- connected the experience to his academics in his written piece. Backpacking is “about the little things and challenges that you encounter during your day and overcoming those, realizing they have an intrinsic value,” just as in academics, “you realize those little battles have value and give you motivation to fulfilling your potential.” Unsure whether he wants to move toward investment banking or life as a professional guide, Cerri said he was grateful that liberal arts education “gave me that internal struggle now on what I will do – and I feel equipped for it, because here you’re surrounded by professionals and staff who have such a diverse background with all their areas of expertise and personal experiences so you have so many tools in your toolbox to get help and advice, to help you structure your life and weigh those implications.”
  • Other experiences documented at the showcase: Purple Knights Leadership Academy, student teaching, resident assistants, internships -- one at The Emily Post Institute doing Web design and marketing, another at the Vermont Caribbean Institute; Study Abroad (Korea, Chile), and MOVE volunteer service leadership, domestic and abroad.

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